The Great Mall of China

A brutal Shanghai morning, the sky a steely gray, a miserable chill whipping down the narrow streets. Oblivious to the elements, Jon Jerde bounces off the cobblestones on the balls of his feet, relishing the bustling energy of Old Shanghai—the dappled grace of the upturned eaves, the fragrance wafting from the Yuyuan gardens, the lovers posing for photos on the magnificent stone bridge. Jerde, the most influential shopping mall architect of his era, is visiting China for the first time in a decade. Yet he is not interested in the furious commerce of Shanghai, its hulking, enclosed shopping centers, its soaring...

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